Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Dork Review: The Three Musketeers

Okay, I need to start this one with a fair warning. To properly illustrate my issues with this movie will require the use of SPOILERS. So, if you don't want to read those, then look elsewhere. Otherwise, continue below.

You may have already figured out I didn't like this version of the Three Musketeers story. I have good reason for this. Not only does it fail as a Musketeer story, it fails as a flick. There was only a single likeable character in the entire movie, and that was Queen Anne. The Musketeers were jerks, D'Artagnan was an arrogant little prick, and the villains were, well, underwhelming.

Add on top of this a story riddled with anachronisms that makes a half hearted attempt at cashing in on the current steampunk trend. Okay, there isn't any steam-powered devices in the film; the creators weren't that over the top, but there is multiple airships. In fact, the ending has a whole fleet of them headed towards France.

Yes, that's right, the ending shows the beginning of an invasion. It is such a rancid piece of sequel bait it defies expectations. I wish it was worst part of the film, but no, it just endcaps this dreck.

Do you want to know the worst part? The sin this movie commits against the whole Three Musketeer mythos and every previous rendition of their story?

It has no good swordfights!

I mean, what the hell? There's only a few times the Musketeers actually pull their swords in the entire film, and so many missed opportunities. Near the end they need to travel to England to retrieve the Queen's jewels, and one of the characters states they'll need to travel back to France with every bounty hunter and assassin standing in their way. This promises a running battle back to the Palace, which would have been awesome. Instead they hijack an airship and shoot their way home.

Yes, that's right, the Musketeers shoot their way home rather than fight dashingly. Sigh.

Finally, there's one other thing that really annoyed me. I'm a fan of the Horatio Hornblower movies that came out a few years ago, and I've studied military history around the era of the Three Musketeers, so I have an idea of how many men it takes to run a cannon on a ship. The airship duel in The Three Musketeers has the Cardinal's ship with only one man per cannon! On a ship that shouldn't have any kind of manpower issues. And, they have barrels with open flames standing around everywhere! In a room filled with gunpowder and cannonballs! Again, sigh.

Really, I don't think I would have had this much of an issue with this film it it wasn't advertised as a Three Musketeer flick. If they'd taken the basic story but changed the names around or changed the era then it wouldn't have been so bad, or just gone whole hog and turn it into a complete fantasy film then that would have been okay. But to produce a sub-par Three Musketeers movie is a terrible thing to do.

If you want a film with pretty settings and great costuming, go see this. If you want a good film that's actually entertaining, go see anything else.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

In The Middle Of Everything

That's how I feel right now. Let me explain. No, is too much, let me sum up. (Gotta love The Princess Bride)

So, I just finished revising a story that had been sent to a few markets, and turned down by every single one. Oh well, it happens. After going through it again it's a much stronger story. Too bad I can't resubmit it to the places that rejected it. However, now I think this story is strong enough to use as one of my Clarion submissions, so it's all good. And, I can always make it my submission to Writers of the Future for this quarter.

Another story has gone in for a CBC contest. We'll see what happens with that. If it comes back I'll give it another look and think of other places to submit it. It's a really short piece, so it may be easier to sell. Heck, if it sells then great, if not, I can always rework it.

Another story just got rejected so I was able to give it a once over and fix a few things. This has gone to less markets than the first story, and I've never submitted anything to Fantasy and Science Fiction, so guess where it's headed?

Another story (seeing a pattern here?) is in with for review and critique so that I can get feedback on it. I'm really hoping this one will be my other Clarion submission piece. I feel both things I have are or could be really strong fantasy stories. That seems to be where my head is right now.

Finally, (yes there is an end to all this) the books I wanted in preparation for starting my next novel are in. My previous attempt at writing a novel, let's just say I wasn't happy with how it turned out. I learned a lot from writing it, the most important part being I can actually sustain a novel length effort, but it was several shades less awesome than I hoped it would be. The new novel I'm going to start writing combines some of my loves. It will have martial arts, magic, and a vaguely Eastern setting. Let's say, Eastern inspired and influenced but seen through a Western eye. I'm not going to use any specific Asian culture to base it on as I don't want to be disrespectful/get it completely wrong.

However, before I start writing I need to do some research and plan a bit. Right now I'm reading A Daughter of The Samurai, the story of a woman raised as Japan transitioned from the medieval period to the modern age, and it's given me some great background and setting ideas. Recently I purchased a book on Shaolin training techniques, another on Japanese architecture, and a third on Buddhist monastic life. All three of these will be fed into the wood-chipper that is my brain to pump out chopped bits of awesome.

Before I start the novel I'm going to make sure my Clarion submissions are ready, so the next few weeks I'll probably be writing less and reading a heck of a lot more.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Not Dead Just Busy

Sorry for the radio silence lately. I've been crazy busy the last few weeks between work, seeing my parents in their new place, and getting stories written and up to snuff for submission to Clarion. The workshop starts taking submissions in December and is open until March, so hopefully I'll know by Ad Astra if I'm going to Clarion next year!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Dork Review: Heirs of a Broken Land

So I was finally able to finish the lovely Marie Bilodeau's Heirs of a Broken Land series. Man, it's hard to squeeze in reading time at work, especially with how busy things are once September rolls around. (Yes I realize work is when I should be working, but being on a tech support phone line means downtime between calls that can be used for things other than work.)

So what did I think of this series? Very much the same as Destiny's Blood.

Marie's work has an epic scale. This series encompasses the fate of a continent split in twain by a magical barrier known as the "Wall of Loss". It has princesses, warriors, and sorceresses, and whole lot of strong women filling those roles. The fate of nations is decided by three women, each strong in her own way.

Now, I've never considered myself a feminist, but I do like to see believable female characters portrayed in fiction. None of the women in these books is a cliche. Each has her own strengths, and weaknesses, and each is given their moment to shine. The are portrayed as people as opposed to objects, and there is nary a damsel in distress to be seen. And the best part? They actually have realistic relationships instead of fairytale romances.

That isn't to say there isn't a fair bit of storytelling going on. These books were written before Destiny's Blood, but they have the same epic language that needs to be shouted out loud to obtain its full effect. The story comes to a crashing end, where a sacrifice needs to be made and the wounds of a broken land healed.

Again, my main quibble is that there isn't enough in these books. I think each of them could easily have been twice as long, as at times they do feel rushed and the passage of time is hard to keep track of. A minor quibble, and probably something more obvious to someone who reads a lot or has studied the techniques of writing.

Find out more about these books at Marie's website.